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Lamb Stew with Parsnips, Prunes, and Chickpeas

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Serves four to six.

  • by David Tanis from Fine Cooking
    Issue 102

North African in spirit, this hearty sweet and savory stew is perfect for the season. Serve it with couscous or good crusty bread.

For the Lamb
  • 3 lb. boneless leg of lamb, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and stuck with 1 whole clove
  • 1 three-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
For the stew
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter or olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into small dice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbs. paprika
  • 2 tsp. cumin seed, toasted and ground
  • 2 tsp. coriander seed, toasted and ground
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed if canned
  • 18 pitted prunes, halved
  • 1/2 cup tomato purée
  • 1 lb. medium parsnips, peeled, cored, and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley
Prepare the lamb

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

Season the lamb with 2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. In a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven, combine the lamb, carrots, onion, cinnamon, bay leaf, and enough water to cover. Cover and braise in the oven until the meat is very tender, about 2-1/2 hours. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve over a large bowl. Discard the vegetables and spices. (The recipe may be prepared to this point up to 2 days ahead. Cool the lamb and broth, and refrigerate separately. Skim the fat from the broth before continuing.)

Make the stew

In a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven, heat the butter or oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika, cumin, coriander, and cayenne and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant (don’t let the garlic burn), 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir in the chickpeas, prunes, tomato purée, and a pinch of salt. Add the reserved lamb and 4 cups of the broth and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes and then turn the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the parsnips and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve sprinkled with cilantro or parsley.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 560; Fat (g): 16; Fat Calories (kcal): 140; Saturated Fat (g): 6; Protein (g): 54; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 5; Carbohydrates (g): 52; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2; Sodium (mg): 950; Cholesterol (mg): 155; Fiber (g): 12;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Oh my gosh----if I could give this a 10 I would. I followed the recipe except that I let it stew for the better part of 2 hours. I have just retired and my husband said that if he would have known he was getting meals like this he would have had me retire much earlier!

At times I like unbrowned stews because it lets the meat character come through unmediated and unpunched up. I used some lamb "stew meat" and the dish tasted terrific. Great assembly of ingredients.

I loved this, but agree with previous posters that it benefited greatly from browning the lamb beforehand. I did that and the results were outstanding, but I would have likely been disappointed if I had not done that extra step.

Fabulous and definitely a dish I'll make again. I followed the recipe pretty closely, though there are a lot of interesting variations which could be done with it. I added cardamom pods. Braising the lamb ahead of time made a huge difference. The flavors melted together beautifully, the texture of the meat was extraordinary, and the aroma in our home was heavenly!

A really great combination of spices. The lamb was super tender, although I wonder why the recipe didn't call for browning the meat before putting in the oven to improve the color. Very easy to make; low maintenance dish for a weekend dinner. I added some carrots to the stew for extra vegetables.

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